Social Media Anxiety by Mollie Ruprecht
I can’t recall the first time I had crippling anxiety, but I’m confident that I’ve battled a mild form of it for as long as I can remember. Whenever I have opened up about the issue to new friends they can’t marry the person they think they know with the feelings I describe, but isn’t that the case for so many of us. We are all so eager to present the best version of ourselves it’s tempting to ignore what’s bothering us and put on a brave face. Through the use of social media, the ability to simplify what others perceive about us with one image streamlined into a daily feed is slightly overwhelming. I’m definitely not convinced social media is a bad thing, I respect everyone’s desire to share their own “curated” content, and more importantly it’s so nice to see snapshots from friends lives! I can recognize the platform as a snapshot in someone’s day, it’s never the whole story. But when I became pregnant I heard through the grapevine about older moms outside my social circle making fun of me. Everyone experiences feelings of self doubt, but it’s no surprise that if the negative voice in my head is ignored, and not channeled appropriately, it can slowly become a fixation.
I was so paralyzed by the judgement of so few that I refused to share pictures of myself and my growing belly. I was also very upset with family members if they didn’t ask me before taking and sharing pictures- this peaked at my baby shower, a moment that should be absent of insecurity. I felt very protective of the experience and wanted to control every element that I could. Inside I knew how ridiculous this was, especially since I was so OVERJOYED to be pregnant and I just wanted to bask in the process. I felt I looked exactly as I should for someone growing another human for the first time, but the critical voice in my head continued to plague me. All I could hear was – she’s gained a lot, she’s gained too little, look how lame that is – why is she wearing that?
As a new friend of mine said, “Isn’t it great being a pregnant woman on the internet in 2016?” I was sure I did not want to be a part of the conversation where women compared their pregnant body to another. I wanted to be someone who embraced other women, but somewhere along those 10 months, I recoiled and retreated into myself- ultimately this was not very empowering to anyone- but this wasn’t about others, it was about myself! Why so many of us place more value on the judgments of others and not in our self worth, I continue to examine.
After becoming a mother, I realized with overwhelming force that I couldn’t protect myself or my baby from this social chatter. People would discuss the details of my birth, the appearance of my post baby body, and how cute or not cute my baby was regardless of whether I posted about it or not. Attempting to take yourself out of others conversation is a daunting and unattainable task. I was determined to not let these women dictate my internet life anymore. Especially for my little family and husband who desperately wanted to share our little girl. My daughter will undoubtedly face cyber issues at some point in her life and I do want to serve as a positive example.
My baby couldn’t possibly understand the many ways she’s already changed and inspired me for the better, this being on the most surface and silly level ! But now I’m prouder than ever to share her and relieved to drown out the negative noise, choosing to fill it with love and RESPECT for other moms and what they feel comfortable sharing. I especially want to praise the women on this platform for being brave and sharing everything that they do- I for one LOVE it and have learned so much.
I am a new mama to a baby girl, living in New York City with my husband and first born beagle, Clyfford.